Steven Gerrard has signed a deal worth more than £4 million (€4.7m) a year as Aston Villa’s new head coach and is already making sweeping changes at the Premier League club.
Six years after departing Liverpool as a player, Gerrard (41) has returned to senior English football as the highest-paid manager in Villa’s history, agreeing a three-and-a-half-year contract.
Villa have paid around £4.5 m (€5.25m) in compensation to Rangers to appoint the former England captain, one of the greatest players of his generation and a Champions League winner. Rangers are yet to announce his successor, with their former Holland international Giovanni van Bronckhorst in the frame to move to Ibrox.
Gerrard is taking coaches Gary McAllister and Michael Beale with him from Rangers, as well as head of performance Jordan Milsom. Beale and Milsom were both with Gerrard at Liverpool. In addition, Gerrard will shake up the Villa first-team set-up, with a number of departures understood to be imminent.
The futures of lead sport scientist Jack Sharkey and performance analyst Scott Adey-Linforth are understood to be in doubt. The senior squad are currently away from the club with many of them on international duty, and the changes are expected to be in place by the time they resume training.
Specialist set-piece coach Austin MacPhee, who also holds a senior position with the Scotland national team, and first-team coach Aaron Danks are likely to stay. Both of them were brought in by the club, rather than by Gerrard’s predecessor Dean Smith.
Gerrard’s Rangers goalkeeper coach Colin Stewart will remain in Glasgow and the Villa goalkeeper coach Neil Cutler will stay in position.
The appointment of Gerrard is seen as a huge coup by Villa’s hierarchy. He had dinner with Christian Purslow, the chief executive, in London on Wednesday night after being cleared for talks and is relishing the prospect of his first managerial position in England’s top flight.
Gerrard said: “Aston Villa is a club with a rich history and tradition in English football and I am immensely proud to become its new head coach. In my conversations with [owners] Nassef [Sawiris], Wes [Edens] and the rest of the board, it was apparent how ambitious their plans are for the club and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their aims.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everybody associated with Glasgow Rangers for giving me the opportunity to manage such an iconic football club.
“Helping them secure a record-breaking 55th league title will always hold a special place in my heart. I would like to wish the players, staff and supporters the very best for the future.”
Gerrard leaves Rangers six months after ending the club’s long wait for a Scottish Premiership title, while he also registered a 72pc win rate in the domestic league.
His decision to quit Scotland has many similarities to the move made by Brendan Rodgers in February 2019, when he controversially departed Celtic mid-season to join Leicester City. Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton, who also criticised Rodgers for leaving, tweeted yesterday: “Stopping Celtic win 10 [titles] in a row was a big deal but Callum Davidson [the St Johnstone manager] did win more trophies than him over the time.”
Gerrard was quickly identified as Villa’s No 1 target after the dismissal of Dean Smith on Sunday, and he will take charge of his first game against Brighton at home tomorrow week. The appointment has been driven by Purslow, who has a close relationship with Gerrard after his time at Liverpool as managing director, and was fully approved by Sawiris and Edens, plus sporting director Johan Lange.
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